Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lasagna gardening

We wanted a large, level back lawn area in our yard. However, what we had was a bunch of bumps, valleys, berms, and sunken, mole run patches. We also wanted decent soil for growing a lawn. What we had was a moss and weed-covered top layer over a rocky, nutrient-poor, sub-layer.

We trucked in a bunch of top soil to add a film of better quality soil. But we still had a very large patch that needed to be brought up to the level of the lawn. To fill this large area, we used a method called lasagna gardening.

We layered paper waste, catalogs, phone books split in half, and cardboard, with grass clippings, raked up leaves, kitchen scraps, and end of season garden clean-up material. About an inch of brown matter followed with an inch of green matter, and repeated several times/layers. Because compostables compress with time, we overfilled this area by a few inches.

What we wound up with, in about a year's time was incredibly rich soil. In fact, this is where we have planted half of our blueberry bushes. The other half are in soil that still needs improvement. The half planted in the lasagna'd soil are doing superbly and are massed with ripening blueberries. I wish I could say the same for the other bushes. But I can work on that soil this summer and years to come.

We used lasagna gardening to bring up an area. But it can also be employed to enrich soil and yet keep the same level. If desiring to keep the ground level as is, simply dig out a pit about 6 to 12 inches deep, and fill lasagna style, slightly overfilling to compensate for compression with decomposition. You'll wind up with a rich soil, that retains water in the dry heat of summer.

A garden lasagna that is begun this summer will be ready for planting in next spring. You can add anything you might use in a compost bin, being mindful not to add anything of animal origin (attracts the critters). Some folks will top each brown-then-green layer with a film of dirt, to trap any odors that will attract wild animals. With lasagna gardening, do I say happy gardening or happy cooking?

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